Zen and the Art of

releasing the Shutter



Zen Buddhism has a practise of "just sitting". This practise is meant to eliminate the idea of separation between the self and the surrounding world in a way so that this idea is no longer dominating your self. What I am going to talk about is a practice of "just releasing the shutter". I would like to eliminate the separation between me, the photographer, and what I am photographing. 

Or to put it in another way:  When I was a kid, I had the early experience that in order to be a good footballer, you should play and play - day after day - till the point where you´d think your feet would fall off. At that time the ball had almost become a part of my legs so I would stop thinking about what I was about to do with it. And only then - when I stopped being deliberate about playing, the ball would do as I intended.

Or to put it in another way: Next time you go for a bicycle ride, try thinking about exactly how you do it. Bicycle, that is. Think about how you move your legs in order to pedal, think about how exactly you do in order to maintain balance, think about how you move your diaphragm upwards in order to exhale and above all, think about what you´ll have to do of this kind in order to get where you´re going. My guess is that you´ll not go very far. All of that should take care of itself. If you don´t think about what you´re doing, you´ll just hop on that bike and whisteling a merry tune you´ll be disappearing in the horizon in a minute.

What I am trying to say is, that your camera should become like a part of your body. That´s why I keep saying that it´s good if you take heeps of pictures. Manipulating the buttons on the camera should be done without even taking the camera away from your eye. It´s easy to learn that - just keep on photographing till the point where you think your hands will fall off. At that time your camera has most certainly become like a part of your body. That way the camera "disappears" - meaning that when you are in the process of photographing, it´s not present in your consciousness anymore. Then you can start approaching the motive without physical obstacles.

But then there are all the mental obstacles to eliminate. Common mental obstacles are:

1. Your desire to become a good photographer.

2. You are thirsty

3. You just had a row with your spouse - and what should you do about that?

4. etc. etc.

Eliminating these obstacles is the easiest thing in the world, and probably the most difficult, too. You must simply become a child once more. Play with photography like an infant would build a castle in the sand. It´s nice and fun if a smashing photograph will be the outcome of this - but it´s not important. You really couldn´t care less.

Playfulness is the right attitude. Have fun. Enjoy the game of photography. Don´t be ambitious - take it as it comes. Keep your eyes open for the right techniques and the right motives only because it´s great fun - for God´s sake - don´t take it seriously.

Break free!